By Doug Rothwell/Business Leaders for Michigan
The pizza guy, the office furniture guy, the chemistry guy ... they have more in common than you know.
The leaders of Michigan’s Domino’s Pizza, Steelcase and Dow are coming together to talk about higher education.
Their conversation is urgent and critical, because they all are challenged with finding enough people with the right skill-sets to fill the jobs they have available. Right now. And in the years ahead.
According to the Lumina Foundation, a private, independent foundation dedicated to increasing students’ access to, and success in, postsecondary education, Michigan faces a very real shortage of 1 million workers with a two-year degree or better.
At a time when we need to grow our number of college educated workers, Michigan’s policy on higher education -- one of our state’s most valuable assets, and critical to the future of Michiganders to lead a quality life -- discourages enrollment by making it too costly for many to attend college.
Michigan’s higher education budget has been reduced over the last decade to the tune of roughly $1 billion -- that’s fewer state dollars being invested in, and dedicated to, Michigan’s world-class, highly respected universities. Not surprisingly, the net effect of these cuts are higher tuition costs for students and families. At this point, college has simply been made unaffordable for many students. That’s not good for students who want to get ahead. It’s not good for our state’s job providers. And, it’s the wrong direction if we want to turn Michigan’s economy around and realize a future where Michigan is the place to be.
Consider this: This year, Michigan will spend 76 percent more general fund dollars on prisons than we will on universities. This investment strategy is upside down, if we want to attract business investment and good-paying jobs -- especially given that Michigan employers are crying out for better-trained workers and workers with college degrees. Right now. And in the years ahead.
Join us on May 7 at the Lansing Center in Lansing as we discuss these issues and strategies to strengthen Michigan by leveraging its higher education system.
"The Leadership Summit: Growing a Higher Education Marketplace," a half-day conference, will feature an extraordinary group of state and national higher education, economic and business leaders and highlight national best practices that involve using higher education to drive the economy, including translating university research and innovation into jobs and creating a skilled and talented work force to meet current and future job demands. Other states are getting this right, and winning. Michigan can too, and must.
Businesses choose to locate where they find the talent they need. This conference is for you, if you want to know what it will take for Michigan to compete in the new knowledge-based industries and also for advanced manufacturing jobs. If Michigan wants a shot at competing for future industries, it has to produce the talent needed by enrolling the students we need in our universities.
Learn how our universities can play a vital role in acceleratingMichigan’s recovery by attending Business Leaders for Michigan’s "Leadership Summit: Growing a Higher Education Marketplace."
For more information or to register, visit businessleadersformichigan.com.